Ukraine’s president was booked to make a statement about opening an investigation into the Biden family in a CNN interview before fate intervened, The New York Times reports. Volodymyr Zelensky’s staffers had reportedly conceded it was inevitable that he’d have to bow to President Trump’s demands to announce investigations against his political enemies or permanently lose millions of dollars in military aid. Aides were approached in September by Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who made clear there was little chance of aid being given until there was a public statement. Trump reportedly wanted the Ukrainian president to speak on CNN, and Zelensky’s staff planned for him to make an announcement on Sept. 13 in an interview with the network’s Fareed Zakaria. However, two days before the scheduled interview, news of the military aid delay leaked and Congress was furious. The Trump administration was forced t0 release the aid and the spot was canceled, according to the report.
Update: CNN said Monday that an interview was agreed to in principle, but a date for it was not confirmed. Zakaria said on his show Sunday: “None of us were aware of a secret campaign to pressure [Zelensky], nor that Zelensky had agreed to announce an investigation into Joe Biden or his son on GPS as The New York Times has suggested.”